2015 Ambassador, Plenipotentiary Cabernet Sauvignon, $49.75
Winery info: Ambassador was founded in 2004 by a group of friends from various backgrounds who shared a belief that “no other experience is quite as enchanting as drinking wine…that something magical happens when you drink wine with friends.” They named their winery after their estate vineyard on Red Mountain managed by Dick Boushey, one of the most talented and sought-after vineyard mangers in the state (think Boushey Vineyard). They produce exclusively estate-grown wines, crafted to reflect the richness and diversity of their unique terroir.
Winemaker: Sarah Goedhart, whose family founded Hedges Cellars, where she is head winemaker. The consulting winemaker is Napa’s Tom Rinaldi, who co-founded Duckhorn Vineyards in 1978. (From the 2016 vintage, Ambassador wines have been made by Mike Macmorran, of Mark Ryan Winery.)
Grapes: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Merlot
Vineyard source: Their estate vineyard, planted on a warm site on Red Mountain
Flavor profile: An inviting blend of rich, dark fruit flavors, with notes of spice, cocoa, and a touch of earthiness. The texture is smooth and supple, and the finish long and refined.
Production/Availability: 216 cases made. There is still a fair amount of this vintage left.
Drinkability: Enjoy anytime, now through 2023.
Food Pairing: This is a great wine for grilled red meat or dishes with smoky flavors.
2016 Isenhower Cellars, Batchelor’s Button Cabernet Sauvignon, $37
Winery info: Brett and Denise Isenhower founded their eponymous winery in 1999. We were big fans of their wines from the start, but during the recession they stopped distributing and we weren’t able to get them for a number of years. But they were able to ramp back up and now are in wide distribution again. In fact, this year they are celebrating 20 years of winemaking!
Winemaker: Brett Isenhower
Grapes: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in French Oak barrels (33% new) for 22 months
Vineyard source: 44% Summit View, 44% Les Collines, and 12% Wallula vineyards.
Flavor profile: 2016 was a warm vintage, producing a richer, more intense version of their Batchelor’s button, eliminating any need to blend in a little Petit Verdot and Cab Franc, as they usually do with this wine. The wine has aromas and flavors of black currant, black olive, and green peppercorn, with a rich mouthfeel and balancing acidity.
Production/Availability: 368 cases made. When we got this wine, there were just a few cases left with the distributor.
Drinkability: Enjoy now or over the next two to three years.
Food Pairing: Juicy red meat dishes, lamb, or wild game.